STL vs. CHI – One Summer, Two Scorecards

STL vs. CHI – Two Scorecards

Every NHL team is still enjoying the last of their offseason and most teams have spent the summer looking to build and improve upon their 2008-09. However, this summer when Chicago has been talked about, it usually hasn’t been anything good, and frankly lately it has been just plain weird what stories are emerging out of the windy city. St. Louis on the other hand has received a wealth of good news, including the signings of some valuable depth at defense as well as some major recoveries from injuries. Here we take a look at how one summer has sent two teams in two opposite directions.

What a bizarre offseason for Chicago – and that’s putting it lightly. They have made some positive gains this summer, but they seem to be losing traction due to many incidents that won’t ever be seen on the ice. Below is a breakdown of the stories that have come out of St. Louis and Chicago this summer as well as a plus (+) and a minus (-) to keep score for the two clubs’ offseasons.

St. Louis Blues Scorecard

  • (+) Keith Tkachuk re-signs with the team for another year. The veteran is a force in front of the net and is a key player for the Blues to keep around. His leadership is valuable on a team full of youngsters.
  • (+) The Blues sign backup netminder Ty Conklin from Detroit. Conklin (as you may have seen by several of my articles that mention him) gives the team a reliable backup for starter Chris Mason. The two of them should form a dependable duo in net.
  • (-) Defenseman Jay McKee leaves the team and signs in Pittsburgh. While the Blues do have several options at the blueline, McKee’s experience will be missed.
  • (-) Eric Brewer’s injury may force him to miss the start of the season, and it is uncertain when he will be back. The Blues defense will be a young one, as the captain will not be present at the start of the year to run the defense.
  • (-) Jeff Woywitka leaves St. Louis to sign in Dallas. Some may argue this is actually a positive to move Woywitka off the team, but the fact remain that the Blues defense will feature several new faces and the chemistry factor could be called in to question.
  • (++) Erik Johnson is cleared for all hockey activity and is labeled 100% recovered from the knee injury that forced him to miss the entire season last year. Johnson can be an elite defenseman that can produce offensively and his arrival is like a major free agent acquisition – but with no additional cost.
  • (+) Paul Kariya states he is ready for the season and has a stronger determination following his comeback from an injury of his own. The winger is not the player he used to be, but he is still a force on the attack that the Blues will gladly welcome back. His leadership and veteran experience will be valuable amongst younger stars such as Oshie, Perron and Berglund.
  • (+) Blues sign defender Bryce Lampman. While this isn’t a huge deal to make note of, the 26-year-old will provide depth in Peoria at defense and is a nice spare part in case a key defender goes down with injury. And you have to admit, his last name is perfect for the NHL.
  • (+) Blues sign defenseman Brendan Bell. The signing of Bell was a steal, and in two swift moves the Blues not only replaced the defenders they lost but upgraded the blueline. Though they lack the experience a guy like McKee has, Bell can dish the puck and play an important role for the Blues this season.
  • (+) Wrapping up the news from the blueline, the Blues reached a new deal with defender Roman Polak. Polak was an important piece to bring back to the team, as he showed he can be a valuable hard-hitting defender.
  • (+) Not a major plus, but still a positive: The Blues add Ed Belfour as a goaltending consultant for their minor league players and prospects. While we may have some mixed feelings about Belfour, it is tough to argue that the man doesn’t know what he is talking about in net.

There you have it. A quick recap of all the St. Louis Blues news from this summer.
Total score: +6

Chicago Blackhawks Scorecard

  • (++) Marian Hossa signs an enormous 12-year deal with Chicago shortly after the free agent window opens. An incredible offensive force when healthy, Hossa is a player that can change the shape of a game every time he touches the puck.
  • (-2) Martin Havlat leaves the team and signs with Minnesota. Havlat and Hossa are extremely talented, and Chicago basically flipped superstar players. Havlat led the team in scoring last season, so his departure is a huge loss to the team, just as the addition of Marian Hossa was a huge gain.
  • (+) John Madden signs with the team on a one-year deal. With New Jersey last season, Madden was barely a factor scoring just 23 points in 76 games. However, his addition is still a positive and likely an upgrade this offseason.
  • (+) The team locked up five of their players with new deals, including likely backup goaltender Corey Crawford. This was some needed general maintenance and while it won’t make a huge impact, still ranks very positively.
  • (-) Stan Bowman named new GM of the team, while former GM Dale Tallon demoted to an advisor. This move sparked a wave of controversy (including some anger from former Hawk Havlat) as to why the move was made following the team’s surge into the playoffs for the first time last year since 2002.
  • (-) NHL and NHLPA invesitgates the team over several of their free agent offers and believe the team failed to send offers prior to the deadline.
  • (-2) News emerges that Chicago chose not to give Marian Hossa a physical prior to signing him. So when news comes out that Hossa has a shoulder injury, needs surgery, and will miss a chunk of time. There is no target date yet, but the team physician believes it will take four months from the date of his surgery (7/23) and he will definitely miss the start of the year.
  • (-) More news concerning Hossa, the NHL investigates the contract Chicago gave the forward suspecting their might be a violation in the deal or with how it will impact their salary cap. While this doesn’t have many implications, it is just more added bad press and bad light on the Chicago front office which already received negative attention earlier.
  • (-2) Depending on the outcome of this story, the rating of this story might change but for now we will leave it as is. Patrick Kane was arrested in a bizarre incident with his cousin, a cabbie and 20 cents change. Long story short, Kane did not receive 20 cents change when he and his cousin took a cab home, and instead of realizing it was not a big deal, he and his cousin apparently punched the cab driver and took off. Depending where you read the story, the details vary from breaking the driver’s glasses to taking back the money they had given him and etc. More details should emerge soon, but this is definitely a big negative for the young star and more bad press on this Chicago team.

And that is all the major Chicago Blackhawk news from this summer. No arguing this team is very talented, but boy did they have some strange and negative news about them this summer. With how things have gone so far, who knows what strange story will come out before this offseason is over.
Total score: -5

Recap

By this site’s count, the final tally comes down to a difference of 11 points between the Blues and Blackhawks. Chicago is still a great team and should still be a major player in the West. However, it seems whenever the team comes up in the news it is another negative story that takes away from their performance last year on the ice. St. Louis is a fast-rising team and should be a playoff bound team in 2009-10. The two teams’ summers have been vastly different and it is safe to say that this summer the Blues took another step forward, while the rising Blackhawks were stuck treading water, and may have taken a step back this offseason.

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